Obama aide: 'Fracking' rules on track

June 25, 2012 at 4:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- Tougher rules for oil-and-gas "fracking" on U.S. lands will be in place by the end of the year, a senior White House official said Monday.

The prediction from White House energy aide Heather Zichal follows the same forecast given Friday by an Interior Department official.

"Fracking" is the term commonly used for hydraulic fracturing, a method employing water, chemicals and sand under high pressure to free natural gas and oil locked within rock formations that has environmentalists concerned about pollution.

Zichal said the new regulations are on track despite a two-month extension of the public comment period announced last week, The Hill reported. Environmentalists have expressed concern that extending the comment period on the draft rules mid-September could set back the measure, the Washington publication said. While President Obama supports tougher oversight of the industry, his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, does not back the Interior Department's draft rules, Romney's campaign told The Hill.

"We are committed to doing the rule and we are committed to finalizing it," Zichal told reporters while at the New Democrat Network think tank.

"I think we saw and heard some issues both from the environmental community, from the industry side, and we need a little bit more time to look at those issues and allow them to engage in this process and I think the more people are allowed to engage in the process we will be able to end up with a better rule," she said.

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